Former West Coast Eagles premiership captain and current Carlton captain Chris Judd will be without an official leadership role for the first time since his rookie year as Carlton undergoes a transformation of on-field leadership under the guidance of their new coach Mick Malthouse, and aim at a successful premiership tilt in 2013.
Brock McLean offered his opinion that his captain might be best served by stepping down from the captaincy and focussing on his undeniably stellar game. Judd later confirmed that he had been thinking about stepping down for some time.
As a dual Brownlow Medallist, Norm Smith Medallist and six-time All-Australian, Judd is arguably one of the greatest players to ever pull on a pair of boots, let alone for Carlton, the club he has played for since 2008. In 2011, he was awarded the AFLPA’s Best Captain Award.
Yet, for all his undeniable talent and flair upon the field, backed up by commitment to his teammates and an incredible off-field work ethic, Judd’s legacy has been tarnished several times over a number of years by some almost inexplicable brain fades. At times the frustration felt by Judd at constant tagging pressure, as well as the desire for perfection that clearly drives him to excel, he has lashed out. Two of the most memorable are the eye-gouging ‘pressure point’ debacle in 2009 and the ‘chicken wing’ incident against Leigh Adams in 2012.
Finalisation of Carlton’s leadership group for 2013 has seen the leadership group trimmed down to five members, Andrew Carrazzo, Kade Simpson, Jarrad Waite, Marc Murphy and Nick Duigan. Duigan has been a solid performer for the Blues, but is unlikely to be nominated as the Captain, given that it is his first year in the leadership group, and Carlton are likely to seek someone with proven leadership.
The prime candidate to replace Judd as captain is fellow midfielder Kade Simpson. He was nominated to the leadership group in 2006 and flourished in the role, playing for the Australian International Rules team in 2006 and 2008.
In 2007, Simpson captained the Blues for several games and has been vice-captain since Judd took the helm. Simpson is remarkably durable; holding the club record for second-most consecutive games played for Carlton, at 158 – his remarkable run was ended after he missed weeks with a broken jaw.
Marc Murphy had the best year of his career in 2011, earning All-Australian honours for the first time in his career, and topped it off by winning the John Nicholls Medal as Carlton’s best and fairest, and the AFL Coaches’ Association Champion Player of the Year.
2012 looked equally promising for Murphy, but his year was soured after a heavy collision with Patrick Dangerfield saw him miss eight matches. He captained Carlton in Chris Judd’s absence during suspension, and showed great leadership and on-field presence during this period.
The benefit of Chris Judd playing without the burden of captaincy could be a huge advantage for Carlton while a breath of fresh air could also help cure some of the many wrongs that occurred for the Blues in 2012.